Creating Effective Prenuptial Agreements
Often people get married believing their marriages will last “until death do us part”, but it has become increasingly common for couples to use prenuptial agreements to protect the assets they have upon entering the marriage. Divorce rates continue to hover at 50% for first marriages and an even higher percentage for second and third marriages. We at Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. support the use of Prenuptial Agreements. We go to great lengths to ensure both parties are fully-informed participants in the process of establishing such agreements.
Knowing you have properly protected your interests before marriage makes it easier to get married in a world where divorce is more common, yet more complex.
Prenuptial Agreements in Florida
A prenuptial or premarital agreement is, according to Florida statute, an agreement made in contemplation of marriage and intended to be effective upon marriage. It must be in writing, and signed by both parties.
A prenuptial agreement goes into effect when the couple gets married, and is not a valid document — even if signed — if the couple decides not to marry. The couple is free to revoke or amend the agreement at a later time, but can only do so in writing. The revocation or amendment, too, must be signed by both parties.
The Uniform Pre-Marital Agreements Act is the Florida statute that dictates the requirements and limitations of these agreements. According to this statute, the circumstances under which a prenuptial agreement is written are significant. It is not valid if there was fraud or duress or if there was not fair and reasonable disclosure of the property and financial obligations.
At Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L., we are meticulous in drafting Prenuptial Agreements. We know that there are two keys to ensuring the validity of Prenuptial Agreements:
- Financial Disclosure: The parties must exchange financial information about their respective earnings, assets and liabilities and make financial documents available to the other to support the disclosures.
- Time: There must be sufficient time to examine and explore the financial disclosures of the other, to negotiate the terms of the Prenuptial Agreement and to decide whether to proceed to get married once the Prenuptial Agreement is signed.
We do not recommend or participate in “take it or leave it” Prenuptial Agreements or ones foisted on a party just days or hours before the wedding.
Our Approach to Prenuptial Agreements
In the 1970s, the Florida Supreme Court expanded the list of rights and properties included in prenuptial agreements. A prenuptial agreement can encompass rights to property, spousal support, ownership in death benefits, and even the making of a will.
The lawyers at Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. advocate a formal approach to creating prenuptial agreements to ensure their validity. This often includes a formal signing conference where both parties and their respective lawyers are present, along with a court reporter. The transcript by the court reporter serves as evidence that both parties were fully informed participants. We have even used video conferences and translators when one party is in another country or when English is not one party’s first language.
Postnuptial Agreements are Becoming Commonplace
If you did not execute a prenuptial agreement before getting married, it is not too late to obtain comparable protection today. Postnuptial agreements are beginning to gain in popularity, much as the prenuptial agreement did several years ago.
Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. has decades of experience drafting prenuptial agreements and has written countless postnuptial agreements. We think you will be in a safer position having a postnuptial agreement — with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your marital finances are in order.
How Postnuptial Agreements Work
The Postnuptial Agreement, which is quite similar to a prenuptial one, is a written contract executed after marriage to settle the assets and liabilities of a couple in the face of possible death or divorce. As with a prenuptial agreement, the contents can vary widely, but they generally include the division of property and spousal support.
There are several possible reasons for a couple to consider having a Postnuptial Agreement:
- To have a financial plan in place in the event of death or divorce, if there is no prenuptial agreement
- To change the terms of an existing prenuptial agreement to reflect a major change in financial circumstances, such as a career change or an inheritance
- To specify any non-traditional allocations, thereby avoiding the standard distributions granted by the state — in the case of Florida, equitable distribution.
How Can a Postnuptial Agreement Help?
A Postnuptial Agreement can also help improve the quality of a marriage by :
- Determining who owns assets
- Establishing a budget for household expenses
- Giving each party knowledge of income, assets and liabilities and what constitute marital assets as opposed to nonmarital assets.
Florida law approaches Postnuptial Agreements from a contract perspective and treats them as enforceable contracts subject to contract law. We have decades of experience with contracts and a full understanding of Florida contract law.
The lawyers at Feldman & Schneiderman, P.L. regard Postnuptial Agreements as an important safeguard for a married couple. We give you the guidance you need to design one to suit your needs.
For all Family Law matters, including Divorce, Alimony, Child Custody and Prenuptial Agreements, in Boca Raton, Palm Beach and Broward.